What Can a Person With Diabetes Eat When Craving Sweets?

Medically Reviewed on 6/6/2022
What Can a Person With Diabetes Eat When Craving Sweets
Here are 12 tips for managing and satisfying your sweet cravings when you have diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects the way your body uses sugar for energy. Symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger and thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, fatigue, and poor vision.

When you have diabetes, following a healthy diet is crucial for controlling the condition. However, it doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid everything with sugar. The key is proper meal planning and striking a balance of nutrients such as fiber and protein in order to keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Here are 12 tips for managing and satisfying your sweet cravings when you have diabetes.

12 tips for satisfying your sweet cravings when you have diabetes

  1. Eat fresh fruit: Fruits such as apples, pears, and papaya are naturally sweet but also contain complex carbs and soluble fiber, which can satisfy your sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on your blood sugar.
  2. Count your carbs: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends consuming 45-60 grams of carbohydrates per meal. If you choose to indulge in an occasional sweet treat, try to make sure your carb intake is within this range.
  3. Use sugar substitutes: Low-calorie artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, neotame, or sucralose can be used as a substitute for sugar as long as you consume them in moderation. You can also use sugar alcohols and natural sweeteners such as stevia.
  4. Eat dark chocolate: Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, which can help improve your insulin response and maintain blood sugar levels. However, avoid milk or white chocolate since they often contain added sugar.
  5. Opt for sugar-free snacks: Satisfy your sugar cravings with sugar-free versions of your factorite snacks. 
  6. Try a health bar: Health bars are often made with natural ingredients and sweetened with fresh or dried fruit. However, keep in mind that not all health bars are created equal, and some may contain hidden fats and sugars. Check the ingredients on the labels and avoid any with added sugars. 
  7. Suck on sugar-free mints: Sugar-free mints or gum can help you curb your cravings for something sweet.
  8. Eat chia seeds: Chia seeds contain a variety of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, soluble dietary fiber, and beneficial plant chemicals. Soluble fiber absorbs water quickly and expands in your gut to form a jelly-like material, which may help you feel satiated for longer and curb sugar cravings.
  9. Eat more fiber and protein: Plant-based sources of fiber and protein include legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas. Legumes help you feel fuller for longer and minimize sugar cravings caused by hunger.
  10. Retrain your taste buds: When you gradually reduce the quantity of sugar in your diet, you retrain your taste buds and the receptors in your brain so that you may not crave as much sugar as before. One simple way to do this is to reduce the amount of sugar in your coffee to two packets instead of three, then to one packet instead of two. Over time, you may notice that sweet foods or drinks you once enjoyed now taste overly sweet to your newly trained taste buds.
  11. Maintain your energy levels throughout the day: You can avoid low blood sugar and intense hunger by eating consistent meals and snacks throughout the day. Sugar cravings are more likely to emerge when you are very hungry. Low blood glucose levels lead to increased calorie intake, whereas high blood glucose levels lead to feelings of satiety. You can avoid sugar cravings by making sure you don’t go hungry for very long.
  12. Practice mindful eating: When you practice mindful eating, you form a healthy connection to food and make better decisions. Avoid eating while watching TV or reading so that you are fully aware of what you are eating and putting into your body. This can lower your risk of overeating and improve your ability to overcome sweet cravings.

Why do people with diabetes need to watch their sugar intake?

When your body converts carbs into glucose, the glucose is transported to your cells and then used to produce energy. Insulin is the hormone that transports glucose from the bloodstream to the cells of the body.

If you have diabetes, however, your body does not produce the required amount of insulin. This causes glucose levels to increase in the bloodstream. Over time, excess glucose levels can damage the kidneys, nerves, eyes, and other organs in the long run.

In order to keep your blood sugar levels under control, it is important to watch your diet and make needed adjustments. Consult with a dietician or nutritionist for help creating a diet plan that strikes a balance between eating healthy meals while still allowing the occasional indulgence in sweet treats.


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Medically Reviewed on 6/6/2022
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The British Diabetic Association. Sugar cravings: Combating a sweet tooth. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/enjoy-food/eating-with-diabetes/food-psychology/sugar-cravings

Yu JH, Shin MS, Kim DJ, et al. Enhanced carbohydrate craving in patients with poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabet Med. 2013 Sep;30(9):1080-6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23586900/